Please Be High Maintenance

If you know me well you know I love watching any Bachelor Nation show. That is mostly because I LIVE for Roses and Rosé (the bachelor recap show on Entertainment Tonight done by the lovely Lauren Zima). I watch every episode at least 3 times without shame- and I surprisingly learn a lot when I do…

A while back I came down with a weird cold virus and found myself watching A LOT of old Roses and Rosé episodes. I laughed, I sneezed…it was a grand ole time. As I rewatched one particular episode there was something that caught me off guard- despite this not being my first viewing of said episode. Lauren goes into talking about a moment from Ari’s seasons a while back. In this particular episode Ari is talking to a girl named Bekah and she tells him she is easy to please; she is “no drama”. While showing this recap Lauren goes “No Bekah! You do not have to be easy to please!” then discusses how women do not need to feel like they must be easy to please: that it is okay to ask for a lot (I could be butchering the exact quotes but that was the general message) After watching this I said out loud (while completely alone): “You know what?! You are so right Lauren!”.

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As I get older I have realized that I have felt a sense of guilt for not being a “chill” person. For a long time it made me feel like there was something wrong with me. Guess what?! That’s a lie.

Of course life is all about finding balance and we need to show respect to one another- but we should never compromise our own standards. There are areas in my life where I would say I am pretty high maintenance. I like it when I don’t always have to be the one to reach out to people first, I like my cooking more than others, I enjoy sleeping in a queen by myself, and I cry really easily. This is what my season of life looks like. AND I NEED TO EMBRACE IT. The more I grow and mature, I may change; but what I need to stop doing is feel like I lack something. I don’t.

This message does not mean we all have to demand the world, there is always give and take in life. The definition of high maintenance is described as “something that requires a lot of work to keep in good condition.”, I would say keep a human in good condition does require a lot of work- and should we really feel bad about that? My encouragement to you is to look at your life and ask “what do I always apologize for?”. Do you apologize for being emotional? Do you apologize for being “needy?”. Then I would follow up that question with “Is there anything I wish I could change about myself?”, are the answers similar? Sometimes the answers to these questions end up showing us that we are a lot more fine than we realize. You don’t have to change your “emotional” personality and you don’t have to apologize for wanting to have space (whatever that looks like). Surround yourself with good honest people and let your true self be free.

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What Michael Scott and Eleanor Oliphant Taught Me About Life

In light of recent events, (That being the Netflix announcement that it will removeThe Office from their streaming platform next year) I have decided to reflect on two fictional characters that have been teaching me a lot as I navigate my 20s (one of them being Michael Scott). In my opinion there is much to learn and pull from when we look at the characters pop culture has given us:

Call me crazy but I’ve learned a lot of life lessons from Michael Scott. Most of the time he taught me exactly what not to do in a plethora of situations- but he also taught me ideas to be valued. Maybe that makes me a little cooky but bear with me for a moment- while his actions are extreme, his ultimate longing is for human connection.

A few months ago I wrapped up an excellent book: Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine. It took me awhile to really enjoy this novel as the Reese Witherspoon quote on the cover is very misleading ( I cried way more than I laughed). Yet once I reached the final page I found myself moved and inspired. For those who don’t know: Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is a novel about a mid 30s woman navigating life and career. She comes across stand offish and rude to many but deep down really wants connection. A lot has happened in her life to make her the way she is and many who surround her do not take the time to learn about who she truly is. I believe she shares a lot in common with our dear Michael Scott.

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Where this story broke my heart was a section where Eleanor talks about hair cuts (I won’t be spoiling any major plot details but if you like to go into a book blind- come back and read this bit later) She describes what it is like to get a haircut, go to the doctor, etc. Eleanor talks about how it feels to simply have a human touch her- and how it feels so foreign, since those are the only moments she has any physical contact. Reading this broke my heart and also reminded me that I should really hug those I love a lot more.

This section of the book reminded me of the time Michael Scott vents to Kelly about all the left over guacamole he has to throw out (due to nobody showing up to his parties). Yes this part is humorous (as well as understandable as to why people don’t attend his parties) but it makes me feel for him. He wants community and connection more than anything.

So what have Michael Scott and Eleanor Oliphant taught me about life? They’ve taught me that people are so simple yet so complicated at the same time. While many of us require others to peel back many layers before we open up- at our core is a longing to be loved. We long to be seen and to be understood. The point of all this is not for me to tell you to go around being friends with everyone- because that’s impossible. The point I want to bring home is this- are we doing all we can to try and understand those around us? I encourage you to pause and reflect on this- no one is perfect but there is always more we can do to make life richer.

“…With you is where i want to be.”

“How I Love you

oh How I love You

You have not forsaken Me

How I love You

oh How I love You

With You is where I want to be.”

I remember when I first heard these lyrics many years ago. Bethel Music had come out with a new worship album and Shepard became my favorite song. The release of this tune, by Amanda Cook, came out during a time when I felt like I was going through hell. The lyrics sustained me. I knew if I sang those words over and over again my heart would believe them- no matter how terrible I believed my season to be. The song gave me hope.

Fast forward a year later: I was in the same place I was a year prior, only slightly different. I felt like my circumstances would have improved at that point but things had only gotten worse.

That summer I was a counselor at my church’s youth camp- it was ten days of hanging out with some awesome high schoolers and many of my friends. It was a week I had been looking forward to all year. In my head I had built this camp up to something that it could never achieve. That time was nothing like what I had expected. Why did I create unrealistic expectations in my head? The truth was I was unhappy. My life hit a curveball in 2014 and it felt like bun 2015 I was even more discouraged. One night at camp we gathered for worship and a sermon- one of the songs that was sung was Shepard. The bridge came and everyone sang along “How I love you…you have not forsaken me… how I love you… with you is where I want to be…” When I sang those words- instead of feeling hopeful and felt distraught. Every word I sang stung, and I began to cry. I wasn’t just unhappy- I was angry. Why was hadn’t my life changed? I felt like The Lord made so many promises to me in 2014 and here I was a year later- more empty than I thought I could ever feel.

Fast forward another year- this time I’m in the band at the same camp. Guess what song was on the weekly rotation? That week was even harder for me than the year before: this was my last camp. As soon as that week wrapped up I was going to begin my journey of moving to Florida. That year I felt even more empty than the year before. One of the last nights of camp we sang Shepard. That bridge came again but this time I had to help sing back up. I was overcome with emotion and had to turn away from my microphone (highly recommend to not completely lose it when you’re playing an instrument on stage.) More than ever singing these words felt impossible.

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Fast forward to present time: almost 3 years later. I had a similar feeling- a feeling of hopelessness and sadness. A friend reached out to me and told me to read psalm 23, where it talks about how the Lord never leaves us or forsakes us. For the first time in ages: Shepard was then stuck in my head. I decided to play it off of my laptop while I did some yoga. The bridge of the song began “How I love you, oh How I love you, you have not forsaken me…” except the second part came and was suddenly overcome by something “How I love you… with you is where I want to be.” All of the sudden I felt as though The Lord was saying to me “I’m singing that part back to you.”

Here what this meant to me in that moment: nothing I have experienced has been in vain. No moment is ever a waste. In each season of pain I went through, God felt it to. Maybe my charismatic church side is showing a little too much for some who are reading this but bare with me for a moment. This message is not for me alone. What I want to convey to whomever is reading this and struggling is that- you are seen and you are strong. Whatever “singing during the rough times” looks like to you, keep doing it. So often we believe our perseverance is not noticed. Morgan Harper Nichols says describes this type of season perfectly “No matter how long this journey has been, you are still traveling, wrapped in grace, and you have not yet reached the end.” It is easy to feel like we are being punished, but what really is taking place is Jesus desiring to sit with us through it all. He feels are pain. Keep going my friends, valleys are difficult but the mountain top isn’t as far as you think it is.

“You’re not behind”

Recently I was driving home from the gym and also debating whether or not I should stop by the store to grab some ice cream. Self control won the internal decision making battle this time around. As I drove, I decided to roll the windows down- something people in Florida rarely do. To my surprise, it felt great. The air wasn’t too hot, the breeze felt incredible. Per usual, my music was turned all the way up filling my car with those cliched summer bops. Instead of laughing at movie moment I was creating for myself, something different came to mind: “wow young Michaela would’ve really loved this.”

When I was little all I could ever talk about was Palm Trees and summer. A little different for a girl growing up just outside of Seattle, Wa. A life of warmth and sunshine was something I had been dreaming of for a long time; feeling that amazing summer breeze while adventuring on my own. The idea of driving in Florida, with my windows down, listening to my favorite music was something my younger self would have always wanted to do. This was a moment that had weight, this was a big deal. It was a symbol that despite certain short comings, I am living a good life.

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As I have mentioned many times- it is easy to get caught up in the things we don’t have. So many times I have been blessed, I celebrate that for a short amount of time then stress about what I am still waiting on. This always comes and goes in waves, but I hate that I can let myself lean towards the negatives so much easier than the positives.

In that moment I had in the car, I could feel the Lord saying “child Michaela is really proud of you right now”. Then I realized- why shouldn’t I be proud of myself? Most of my life has been me feeling like I am chasing down this timeline that will never be mine- feeling like I am always behind everyone else. There are many things I wish I had but Jesus reminded me that I have my joy. This gift will always be a part of my past, present and future.

So to my friends who feel stuck, or feel behind: celebrate those small moments. The Lord May surprise you.

Why I Am Grateful To My Younger Self

Tomorrow’s my birthday, the day I reach 24 trips around the sun. If you know me you know how much I love birthday’s and how much I generally love celebration. When this time of year hits, I enjoy the cliche of looking at where I was and where I am now. However there are moments where I can look at my younger self and not always feel the warmest feelings. There are times when I can think back to my past and feel more shame instead of gratitude. But shame is ugly and I’d rather not associate that word with any part of me. So when I was thinking of what kind of “Birthday Blog” I should do, I began to think about expressing gratitude to who I used to be. Once you are done reading this I encourage you to practice this with yourself. In honor of my birthday here are 24 reason why I am grateful to my younger self:

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  1. She reminds me that God keeps all of His promises

  2. Her humor has only improved with time

  3. She’s made me smarter

  4. She’s made me stronger

  5. She felt the bad stuff and in order for me to feel peace today

  6. Every day she worked hard to be the best version of herself that she could possibly be

  7. She made great friends

  8. She took chances

  9. Her heart never stopped loving despite feeling rejection

  10. Her personality made me realize I like who I am becoming

  11. She cried a lot and I’m better today because of that

  12. She traveled

  13. She helped people

  14. She wrote even when people told her she wasn’t a good writer

  15. Her memories make me laugh

  16. She was never embarrassed about her never ending love for dogs

  17. She chose to seek out new City’s that lead to many opportunities

  18. She taught me to not take myself too seriously

  19. She tried sports- confirming to my present self that I truly don’t like them (haha)

  20. She wore her heart on her sleeve

  21. She always learned something from a bad situation

  22. She taught me how to be stylish

  23. She took never shut the door on our passions

  24. If it wasn’t for her- I wouldn’t have the freedom I do today.

    Let’s celebrate who we’ve been and all we have learned. What “thank you’s” do you have to give to your younger self?

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When life gets in the way of blessings

“Count your blessings and you will start to lose count.”

The first time I heard this quote my mind was blown. I texted about twenty people sharing it with them and felt so high on life and Jesus I knew nothing could bring me down. Fast forward about five years and this phrase, to me, has become nothing but a quote you would find on a coaster purchased at a Cracker Barrel- meaningful but over used.

Lately I have been very blessed, but I haven’t been acting like it. Jesus would bless me with something that had been prayed over for many months, and there was hardly any time spent basking in this great gift. Instead I would move onto the next thing, thinking: “yeah this is great but I still need X in order to fulfill Y and Z”. Now this is common for someone with anxiety, but this did not need to be my life.

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The other day I was driving home from the gym. Normally some sort of noise must be playing before I even start driving but then I thought: “Don’t put in music or a podcast- talk to Jesus.” The fact that this had become sort of forgein to me made me sad, but felt refreshing once I began. It is always awkward knowing where to start when we talk to God, so I just began to thank Him for me recent blessings. I could sense The Lord saying - “Look at how I provided for you in your time of need, don’t worry I can work miracles more than a few times.”

The point is I need to stop trying to control all of my outcomes. It is such a relief knowing we do not have to have it all figured out. My goal is to stop myself when I get into future planning mode, and look at my present and thank God for bringing me to where I am. Trying to control everything only leaves us tired- and most of us do not have enough time for naps. ❤️

When your enneagram is the same as everyone

The enneagram: I feel like this was a test that came out of no where and everyone jumped on the band wagon like it was trendy new way to wear jeans. Every millenial female would be asking me what my number was and vise versa. While I love the enneagram, I also kind of hate it. Mostly I have a love hate relationship with my number, the very common 2: The Helper. Now before you jump to conclusions, the reasons for this feelings may be a little different than you think.

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I grew up on Meyers Briggs. My dad is basically certified in this personality type of test so it was something I always knew about. When people began to tell me about the Enneagram I became very interested. I knew I loved a good quiz and anything that exposes why people are the way they are always fascinates me. The more the people around me talked about it however the more I felt disconnected to the people I knew experiencing break throughs of sorts.

Over a couple of years I heard many different stories of people finally being able to understand themselves and understand the people around them better. It was like light bulbs were going off all over my generation. But I never had that moment. I would think: did I miss something? Is something wrong with me?

So many people I knew were realizing they were a 2 on the enneagram. They were having those light bulb moments, but nothing about the “helper” felt new to me as an individual. I didn’t feel like I wanted to neglect the characteristic of a 2: I knew I thrived off of meeting the needs of others and I also new that I was insecure and would question others reciprocated love for me. What bothered me was how many women were identifying with this number.

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Certain podcasts, and studies describe how many women (many being Christian women) feel as though they have to identify with a 2. Hearing this made me angry and caused me to question my own instincts. Was I just identifying with a norm that many women believed they had to follow? Then I began to believe I needed to highlight other things about myself: I am selfish and for the most part I can say no, there is no way I am a 2.

Recently however I have been having some break throughs. When old wounds of my life were finally finishing their healing cycle I realized something: many of my old wounds had to do with others or myself rejecting who I was as a human being. Whether that be people speaking against how much I love others, saying it’s “a little too much” or that my confidence was actually pride. Here is what actually matters: The Lord is our only true judge of character and something I really needed to remind myself was that He is the ultimate helper.

We are all on a journey of discovery; searching for who we are and what makes us the best version of ourselves. I’m happy there are so many outlets for people to use on their own journey. We all have a different pace but the outcome is that we all matter, no matter how differently we arrived to our destination.

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What Parks and Rec Taught Me About Love

The Office is my favorite show of all time… and I don’t really see that changing. But it is not a show I will always look at as the prime example for many of life’s valuable lessons. With every re-watch, the more I dislike Jim and Pam’s relationship and question why I aspired to something of their caliber. The show with advice that ages better than fine wine is Parks and Recreation.

I picked up parks and rec when it was almost wrapping up its second to last season. Being an office fan, I loved the dry humor and crazy cast, but what stood out the most was the relationships. While all be it silly, I caught myself being moved by the romances (coming from someone who can feel pretty cynical about relationships). There are a couple quotes from the show that have stuck with me for years and have changed the way I view love and relationships:

“This is the woman I have chosen to love” - Ben Wyatt

Ben Wyatt. My dream man. I love this line of his for so many reasons. Ben makes this comment when Leslie sends him on a crazy intricate scavenger hunt that produces mostly stress for Ben. But he doesn’t care. He knows his love for Leslie and he knows that this love is a choice, a choice he is happy to make over and over again. Throughout the series Ben and Leslie both make decisions and sacrifices because they have chosen each other. They do what needs to be done to make their relationship work and they know it’s not going to be perfect and life isn’t always rainbows and butterflies.

I love you and I like you.

I love you and I like you.

There are plenty of soul mates out there” - Leslie Knope

Leslie, the queen of all that she survays. When Chris gets dumped by Jerry’s daughter he believes she was the best he would ever have. That she was his soul mate and now they are not together. Leslie’s response is perfect- there isn’t one particular soulmate out there for all of us. This is my opinion but I think the belief in soulmates has caused so many of us to stop living the life to our best. The idea of soulmates is so dangerous, it can prevent us from moving forward from something that was not meant to last forever. I am so glad I don’t believe in soulmates anymore and I am thankful that Leslie reminds to keep searching for the good that is waiting for us.

“Do not mistake drama for happiness” - Ron Swanson

There is a whole podcast just about this quote but I cannot for the life of me remember the name of it (Mel if you’re reading put it in the comments haha.) This may be the best Parks and Rec lesson on love. I am guilty of this- thinking relationship drama is a good thing, an exciting thing. More than not I have fallen for the types that “I could fix”, and it’s left me hurt and drained. Consistency and loyalty isn’t boring. Sitting on the couch watching tv with your partner for hours and going to bed by 8pm is not mundane. I would even add that being on your own is that much more okay. There have been so many moments in my single life where I wished I could have someone to think about, to “have drama with”. Why would I wish for that when my best life is right here in front of me?

As always thanks for reading. I love you and I like you.

Books That Impacted Me In 2018

Book sales have been increasing since 2013. People are reading more than we could have ever hoped for in the modern age. This makes me giddy. While I feel as though I go through books slower than ever, I LOVE READING. Like most avid readers, I love the crisp feeling of the pages telling the story. Contrary to some, I do not geek out over old books (I actually hate the smell), but adore getting an amazon package with something new (no not as romantic sounding, but hey we all have our things that make us happy). While books do not tend to impact me as much as film, 2018 was a great year for reading, here are my favorites:

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Love Her Wild By: Atticus

The rise of poets in this technical age astounds me and I am here for it. Like most 20 something females, I love Rupi Kaur, but did not read Atticus until last year. This collection of poems is captivating. January 2018 was a month of healing for me, a month where I finally let myself embrace emotions again. This book helped me with that. There are days where I come back to it and feel at piece and inspired.

Finding Audrey By: Sophie Kinsella

Media tries and tries to portray mental illness, and rarely do a good job. When the job is done right, the end result tends to be a dark tale. Finding Audrey tells a story of a girl with terrible social anxiety and the result is light hearted, humorous, respectful, and eye opening. This story helps the invisible feel seen. It is deeply moving and left me with the biggest smile on my face.

The Lonely City By: Olivia Laing

This book was nothing like what I expected. Honestly, I do not want to describe it that much. This is one of those books that you just have to pick up and read. What I will say is that last page moved me to tears and validated my life of being single more than most non-fiction could.

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Little Fires Everywhere By: Celeste Ng

Yes, everyone and their mom read this book in 2018, and for good reason. The writing is superb and I could not put it down. What made this an impact-full story more than just a page turner was the questions it leaves you with. When a story makes you thinking about right and wrong long after you are done, you know you’ve read a masterpiece.

Call Me By Your Name By: Andre Aciman

You guys know I loved the film and the book is no different (although it has a few more cringe inducing moments). What I loved about reading the book was how it had much of the conversations that took place in the film, but with so much more. The same points are raised: how we should accept those who are different from us and how we need to allow our souls to feel. Reading these words gave me the same feeling that I get from laying out by a pool for hours: I am able to pause, reflect, and not be concerned about the things that do not matter.

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Films That Impacted Me In 2018

Each year is an open door for an infinite amount of movies. While the relationship was short lived, I spent many nights with my boyfriend, Mr. Movie Pass, in 2018. He kept me sane during the many rough days I had at the beginning of the new year (Was the start of 2018 way worse than the rest of the year for anyone else?) There were many solo movie dates I embarked on, mostly to catch up for the 2018 Oscars. Yet I walked away greatly impacted by some incredible movies:

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5. The Shape of Water

Okay, technically this came out in 2017 but I saw it in the theater in 2018. Initially when I saw this film, I was too taken aback by the odd nature of the plot. After the second viewing though, I fell completely in love with this film. Yes, the plot is not easy to relate to (no I am not in love with a merman), but the movie as a whole can easily touch the hearts of many. The Shape of Water’s beauty is found in it’s themes; sometimes the loneliest of people are the most kind with the most to offer this world, and there are always people who will fight for what is good and right.

4. The Haunting of Hill House

Yes, this is a television series…but this is my own list so I am going to cheat. This horror series was probably the most well put together television show…maybe ever (YOU GUYS, THE EDITING). While in my opinion this show is technically perfect, the themes left a deep mark. No, when I was little I did not experience tragedy at the level of these characters, nor did I see ghosts. What stuck out to me though was how this show subtly relates to spiritual and mental trauma. Many of us go through things that are hard to explain to the people we love (i.e. emotional and mental pain). Wounds that are not physical can only be felt inside the heads of those who are hurting. While that is next to impossible for the people around us to see, that does not mean they are not real.

3. A Star Is Born

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When the trailers for this film came out, I honestly thought A Star Is Born would be terrible. But it was far from that. Seeing how each character was affected by addiction and human brokenness was powerful, but seeing how people loved beyond imperfections had an even greater power. The Ally and Jack relationship isn’t anything I aspire to have but the scene where (Spoiler) Ally visits Jack in rehab really stuck out to me. She arrives with open arms, and forgives without question. Ally doesn’t excuse Jacks mistakes but reminds him that he is loved. Their story is tragic, but a good reminder that there is always something to live for and fight for.

2. Love Simon

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Finally a teen “rom-com” that wasn’t riddled with cliches and terrible acting. I kid you not, every time I watch this movie my heart feels warm. The story is beautiful and full of depth. While the storyline doesn’t resemble my own life, it isn’t hard to learn from Love Simon. Sorry to sound cliched as I talk about this movie, but every time it just makes me feel loved. Never have I watched a movie that could make anyone watching it feel validated and important. No matter what their walk of life may be. This film is a hug, and that’s all I can really say about it.

1. Won’t You Be My Neighbor

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Call Me by Your Name isn’t on here because I’ve already written about it twice, so I have to give my top spot to Won’t You Be My Neighbor. What can I say about this that has not already been said? It is perfect in every way. As mentioned a few blogs back, I watched this alone, in a theater, and cried for a good hour afterwords. During the time of my viewing, I was in a creative rut, I was beyond discouraged. What makes this film so good is that it does not shy away from the bad. Mr. Rogers wasn’t perfect and he certainly wasn’t always happy. Yet, he never stopped believing in making the world better. This wasn’t because of his own abilities, but because of his faith and the love of those around him. Those last few minutes of the film will never stop wrecking me in the best way possible.

Honorable Mentions:

Blackkklansman

Goodbye Christopher Robin

Revenge

A Quiet Place